Airbus Military details 'limited damage' to A330 tanker after boom mishap

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The Airbus Military-operated A330 multirole tanker transport (MRTT) that was involved in an in-flight refuelling training incident on 19 January suffered only "some limited damage", the company says.

Scheduled for delivery as part of a Royal Australian Air Force order for five MRTTs, the aircraft was supporting a Portuguese air force Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter when part of its boom was broken off.

"The boom detached at the root of the structural mast," says Airbus Military, responding to questions from Flightglobal. "There is no damage to the boom attachment, nor is there any significant damage to the [aircraft's] fuselage," it adds.

However, the company is assessing the likely duration of limited repairs required, which it says are "in the non-pressurised area of the tail cone and auxiliary power unit area (structure)".

 
© Airbus Military
The A330 tanker lost its boom (file image shown) at the root of the structural mast

The company test crew piloting the A330 flew the aircraft for a further 1h 40min after the incident before landing at its Getafe site near Madrid. They reported "no impact or consequences on the overall systems behaviour of the aircraft", it notes.

The F-16 also sustained minor damage as a result of the mishap, but landed safely at Monte Real air base. The broken boom section fell into the sea following the contact.

Meanwhile, the UK's first A330-200-based Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft has cleared a significant milestone, having passed fuel for the first time via its centreline Cobham 805E fuselage refuelling unit. Airbus Military performed the test from Getafe on 21 January with the support of two Spanish air force Boeing EF-18 fighters.

"Contacts were successfully performed with both fighters at an altitude of around 15,000ft [4,570m] and at speeds from 250kt [462km/h] to 325kt," says Airbus Military.